Why Toto Wolff holds “no grudge” against Lewis Hamilton and understands Ferrari F1 move

Toto Wolff explains how he learned of Lewis Hamilton's decision to leave Mercedes for Ferrari.

Lewis Hamilton and Toto Wolff have worked together for a decade.
Lewis Hamilton and Toto Wolff have worked together for a decade.

Toto Wolff insists he holds no grudge against Lewis Hamilton over the latter’s decision to quit Mercedes in favour of a move to F1 rivals Ferrari.

Thursday’s announcement of the seven-time world champion's blockbuster switch to Ferrari from 2025 sent shockwaves throughout the F1 world as one of the biggest driver moves in the sport’s history.

It has now emerged that Hamilton informed Wolff of his decision during their annual get-together over coffee at Wolff’s Oxford home on Wednesday, just 24 hours before the story broke.

“When we signed the contract with Lewis, we opted for a shorter term,” the Mercedes team principal told media including Crash.net on Friday morning. “So the events are not a surprise. Maybe the timing.”

Wolff added: “He said to me that he has decided to race for Ferrari in 2025. That was basically it and we had a good hour of conversation and this is where we are.”

Wolff stressed he found Hamilton’s choice “perfectly understandable” as he revealed key details about the 39-year-old’s explanation.

“How he framed it to me is perfectly understandable, he needed a new challenge and he was looking for a different environment and this was maybe the last possibility to do something else,” Wolff said.

“We are big boys, we knew that signing a short-term contract could be of benefit to both sides. We couldn’t commit for a longer period and he has taken the option to exit.

“So, in a way, we totally respect that you can change your mind in different circumstances, and switching to Ferrari maybe for the last peak in his career, maybe rolling the dice a bit, I can follow that decision.”

Asked if it was difficult to deal with on a personal level, Wolff replied: "When he told me the reaction was pragmatic: When are we communicating this, what are the pressure points, how are we managing this season going forward, and what is it we’re going to do in terms of driver line-up? There was that Mercedes mind, the team’s mind kicked in.

“Now, having slept a few nights on it, it means that our professional journey comes to an end, working together, but it doesn’t mean that our personal relationship ends.

“I’ve found a friend, we’ve built a relationship over the last 10 years, and he faced a very, very difficult situation, taking a decision of where to drive, maybe for the first time since 10 years without being able to brainstorm with me.

"Therefore, I will always respect the difficulty of the situation that he faced, and in the future, we will discuss whether this could have been done in a different way or not - but I hold no grudge.”

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